President Joe Biden is leading Tuesday’s remembrance of one of the nation’s darkest — and mostly forgotten — minutes of racial violence, marking the 100th anniversary of the destruction of a thriving Black community in Tulsa.
Biden is helping commemorate the deaths of countless Black people killed with a white mob a century past, his visit coming amid a national reckoning on racial justice. It stands in stark contrast to then-President Donald Trump’s trip a year ago, which was greeted with protests.
Biden is going to be the first president to participate in remembrances of the devastation of that which was known as”Black Wall Street.” In 1921 — on May 31 and June 1 — some Tulsans looted and burnt the Greenwood district.
He will meet independently with survivors of this massacre. Up to 300 Black Tulsans were murdered, and tens of thousands of survivors were pushed for a time to internment camps controlled by the National Guard. Burned bricks along with a fragment of a church cellar are all that live today of the more than 30-block historically Black subject.
Biden also”will explain that we will need to understand our background from the first sin of slavery, throughout the Tulsa race massacre to racial discrimination and housing so as to build common ground, to truly mend and rebuild,” she said.
Some vendors were selling memorabilia, including Black Lives Matter hats, shirts and flags below a bridge of their interstate that cuts through the district.
The names and images of Black men murdered by police hung on a chain-link fence beside the church, such as Eric Harris and Terrence Crutcher in Tulsa.
America’s continuing battle over race will last to test Biden, whose presidency would have been impossible without overwhelming assistance from Black voters, both at the Democratic primaries and the general election.
Biden has vowed to help fight racism in policing and other areas of life following nationwide protests after George Floyd’s passing per year ago that reignited a national conversation about race. Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by snowy Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
Following Chauvin was convicted in April, Biden said the nation’s work was far from finished with the verdict, declaring,”We can’t stop .”
He called on Congress to act quickly to handle policing reform. However he’s also long projected himself as a ally of police, that are fighting with criticism about long-used tactics and training procedures and difficulties in recruitment.
The Tulsa massacre has only recently entered the national discourse — and the presidential trip will place a much brighter spotlight on the event.
“This is so important because we have to recognize what we have performed if we’re going to be otherwise,” said Eddie Glaude, chair of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. Biden’s trip, Glaude said,”has to become more than symbolic. To tell the truth is that the precondition for reconciliation, and reconciliation is your basis for repair.”
The White House said the government will take steps to tackle disparities that lead to Black-owned houses being appraised in thousands of dollars less than comparable homes owned by whites in addition to issue new federal rules to fight housing discrimination.
The government can also be setting a objective of raising the share of federal contracts awarded to small disadvantaged businesses by 50% by 2026, funneling an estimated extra $100 billion to these companies within the five-year period, according to the White House.
Historians say the massacre at Tulsa started after a local newspaper drummed up a furor over a Black man accused of stepping onto a white woman’s foot. When Black Tulsans showed up with guns to avoid the man’s lynching, white inhabitants responded with overwhelming force.
Tensions persist a century later.
Organizers called off a separate commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, saying no agreement could be reached monetary payments to three survivors of this fatal assault. It highlights broader debates over reparations for racial abuse.
Now they are being discussed by schools and universities with ties to slavery and from local authorities looking to make cash payments to Black residents.
A number of Tulsa’s Black residents wonder whether the $20 million invested to build the Greenwood Rising museum in an increasingly gentrified region of the city could have been better spent helping Dark descendants of the massacre or residents of the city’s predominantly Black north side a few miles from Greenwood.
Disagreements among Roman leaders in Tulsa over the handling of commemorative occasions and millions of dollars in contributions have contributed to two disparate groups intending separate slates of anniversary events.
Biden, who was vice president to the nation’s first Black president who picked a Black woman as his former president, backs a report on reparations, both in Tulsa and much more widely, but hasn’t committed to supporting payments. He recently declared the need for America to confront its past, saying,”We must admit that there could not be a understanding of the American dream without interfering with the original sin of slavery as well as the centuries-long campaign of violence, fear and injury wrought upon African American individuals in this nation.”
Trump visited Tulsa annually under vastly different conditions.
After suspending his campaign rallies because of that the coronavirus pandemic, Trump, a Republican, picked Tulsa as the place to indicate his return. But his choice to schedule the rally on June 19, the vacation called Juneteenth that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, was met with such fierce criticism he postponed the occasion by a day. The rally was marked by protests outside and empty seats inside a stadium downtown.